Gran Paradiso National Park

The Gran Paradiso National Park is part of the system of protected areas in the Aosta Valley, together with the Mont Avic Regional Natural Park and nine nature reserves established in the early nineties.

Established on December 3, 1922, the Gran Paradiso National Park is the first Italian national park and the oldest. Visiting the park means getting to know an Italian reality of excellence and uniqueness, in a typically alpine environment that offers contact with nature and its unique fauna, enjoying boundless landscapes.

Located between the Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont regions, the park is managed by the Gran Paradiso National Park Authority, and on the French side, it borders the Vanoise National Park.

Its surface is 71,043.79 hectares, on a mainly mountainous terrain, and boasts the Gran Paradiso massif, at 4,061 meters. The park is affected by five main valleys.

The visit is suitable for everyone: families can truly find a corner of paradise here, bringing children closer to nature. It is wonderful to meet the animals that populate the park up close, follow their tracks, hear their voices. But the park is also a destination for sports enthusiasts, who can do numerous activities here, such as skiing or hiking on challenging hiking trails. Inside the park there are trekking paths, animal observatories, rest areas, waterfalls, lakes, unique views in the world, but also numerous activities organized by the Park Authority.

In Valle d’Aosta, the Gran Paradiso National Park has three visitor centers, in Cogne, Valsavarenche and Rhêmes-Notre-Dame. The visitor centers allow you to explore the various naturalistic aspects of the protected area in every season. Not to be missed, in Cogne, is the Paradisia alpine garden, especially in July, when many of the more than 1,000 species of the garden are in full bloom. In 2014 the Gran Paradiso became part of the world Green List of protected areas.

On December 3, 1922, King Vittorio Emanuele III, in the early days of the Mussolini government, signed the decree that established the Gran Paradiso National Park. Article 1 of the decree states that the purpose of the park is to “conserve the fauna and flora and preserve the special geological formations, as well as the beauty of the landscape”.

The emblem of the park is the ibex, present in numerous specimens within the park.

At the landscape level, the environment is predominantly alpine. The mountains of the group were in the past carved and shaped by large glaciers and streams to create the current valleys. The valley floors are rich in luxuriant woods, made up of larch, spruce, stone pine and even white fir. Higher up, the boundless sceneries of the vast alpine pastures open up, bursting with flowers in spring. Rocks and glaciers characterize the landscape of the peaks.

There are numerous animals that can be encountered during the walks: chamois, marmots, hares, foxes, badgers, ermines, weasels, martens, stone martens. There are also many birds of prey (the eagle, the sparrow hawk, the eagle owl are just a few examples), reptiles, insects and amphibians.

The park is a real outdoor educational laboratory, not only for children but also for adults. In every season of the year the park is transformed, allowing a different approach to nature: from the wonderful cool summers, suitable for trekking excursions at high altitude and to be dedicated to the discovery of flowers, to the autumns in which the chamois goes in love and the woods they are colored with splendid reds and yellows, until winters, suitable for those who love cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering and walks with snowshoes. The Park Authority, which manages the area, is also involved in organizing and promoting numerous environmental education initiatives, as well as sporting and cultural ones.

In the past, the Park area was densely populated. Here lived, in a self-sufficient way, an ancient civilization of shepherds. The houses on the Piedmont side are built entirely of stone, while wood also appears on the Aosta side. The most common model of dwelling consists of a stone and wood building with the stable at the bottom, the house on the first floor and the barn above, in order to keep the living rooms as warm as possible. There are also decorative and artistic elements such as the votive pillars typical of the Val Soana, which testify to popular religiosity.

The Park aims to enhance the cultural heritage of the mountain and favor a certain economic development compatible with the environment.

History of the Gran Paradiso National Park

The ibex, an animal symbol of the park, has always populated this area, even if man threatened his quiet life. In fact, the animal was a highly coveted prey for hunting. At the beginning of the 19th century, the ibex was almost extinct, but a colony of about 100 survived here.

The meat of the ibex was considered succulent, and it was also given an aphrodisiac power: a bone in its heart (called, in fact, “the cross of the heart” was used as a talisman. Thus it was that on September 21, 1821, the king of Sardinia Carlo Felice issued the Royal Patents with which he ordered: “The hunting of ibex remains prohibited in any part of the kingdoms as of now”. But the beauty and the enormous quantity of fauna soon led the young King Vittorio Emanuele II to make the area a Royal Hunting Reserve, in 1856 also creating a body of specialized guards and building a road network for the protection of fauna and for excursions. So for a long time the territory was beaten by the intense hunting campaigns of the royal family, with a following of 250 men. Only the king was allowed to shoot ibex and chamois directly, while the others were in charge of encircling and shooting to scare them and send them in the king’s direction. Numerous heads were killed, but only males; in a short time the number of animals increased considerably.

The last royal hunt took place in 1913.

It was Vittorio Emanuele III who in 1919 ceded the territories of the Gran Paradiso he owned to the State with the relative rights, indicating as a condition that the idea of establishing a national park for the protection of alpine flora and fauna be considered.

On December 3, 1922, in the first days of the Mussolini government, the king signed the decree that established the Gran Paradiso National Park. Article 1 of the decree states that the purpose of the park is to “conserve the fauna and flora and preserve the special geological formations, as well as the beauty of the landscape”.

Visitor Center of Cogne


Cogne Visitor Center – Fondation Grand-Paradis

Village Minier, 11012 COGNE (AO)

  • Phone: (+39) 0165 75301 Fax:(+39) 0165 749618
  • E-mail:
  • Internet:

The Cogne visitor center is a research laboratory. The exhibition itinerary unfolds according to the four fundamental thematic points: water, forest-pasture, fauna, man, but it is not structured according to an obligatory linear path: the visitor will choose his own. The guiding idea revolves around the concept of knowledge of environmental data and land management. Suitable for a heterogeneous audience, whether you are experts or tourists, but also schools!

The hydroelectric energy section is also interesting. The steel and industrial development of the Aosta Valley has in fact originated from the presence of renewable energy sources such as water and from the extraction of magnetite in the mines of Cogne. An exhibition dedicated to the mine can be visited, which tells us its history and exhibits the clothing and tools of the miners.

Rhemes Notre Dame Visitor Center


Fondation Grand Paradis

Villaggio Cogne, 11012 COGNE (AO)

  • Phone: 0165.75301 Fax: 0165.749618
  • E-mail:
  • Internet:

Inside the visitor center, the “Welcome Back Bearded Vulture” museum was created, dedicated to the return to the park of the largest European bird, the bearded vulture. Inside you get closer to the knowledge of this animal, which had disappeared at the beginning of the century, and of the rest of the fauna of the park.

Valsavarenche Visitor Center

Loc. Dégioz 65


  • Phone: (+39) 0165 75301 Fax: (+39) 0165 749618
  • E-mail
  • Internet:

The information center is located near the church of Degioz, and inside it houses the “Museum of the lynx” and the “Wolf Space”.

The “Spazio lupo” is a documentation center that collects evidence on the presence of the wolf in the park; in addition to two splendid specimens of wolves, the center offers documentation and interactive films. The “Museum of the lynx” presents images of the Park by the Professional Association of Gran Paradiso National Park Guides in collaboration with the Fondation Grand Paradis.

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